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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Jacobite Cathedral of Saint Mary in Kerala, India

- Martha Mariam Cathedral, Manarcard, Kerala -

A good friend of mine got married three weeks ago. The wedding was at the Jacobite Cathedral of Saint Mary, in the city of Manarcard, the Indian state of Kerala. I haven't been able to attend; India is far away. It would have been a great travel experience. I was once in China, many years ago, never in India.

- The Icon of the Holy Virgin and Child -

As I was browsing the photos of the cathedral, some memories of my childhood came to mind. I was perhaps eight or nine, and I got a book named From Pole to Pole. The first sentence was, It was in 1893... The old lady who gave me the book added, I was born in 1893.

The author was Sven Hedin. He remained for ever in my admiration and after many decades, when I moved to America, I found another of his books, My Life as an Explorer.

But let's come back to the book I got as a child, From Pole to Pole. It was there that I learned about Marco Polo and his travels. After a couple of years I got Marco Polo's book, Il Milione. It was a fine edition with a lot of comments for each page. And then, during all my childhood, I followed with my imagination his travels and his stories about the King-Prester John and about the fabulous animals and old kind of populations with incredible customs. And I learned in the book about the Christians that Marco Polo had found on the way; Jacobites, Maronites, Nestorians, old branches of the Eastern Church, the Jacobites claiming Saint Thomas as their ancestor.

- Jacobite Priests in Front of the Altar -

Later in my life I read about another medieval traveler to the Far East, the Franciscan missionary Rubruquis (his account is now on the web, in both Latin and English: up to you). Chapter 26 speaks of How the Nestorians, Saracens, and Idolaters are joined together (don't expect too much mutual religious acceptance in the thirteen century).

Well, my friend is a Jacobite and so browsing his wedding photos I came again to the stories of my childhood: Sven Hedin, and Marco Polo, and Rubruquis, and Prester John, and the old Eastern Christians living far away mixed with so many other religions and so many other populations, sharing with all of them customs and habits, while praising the Name of the Lord.

- The Stone Cross -

(Icon and Orthodoxy)



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